People all over the world email me smart questions daily. Here I post my favorites along with my actual responses (sometimes modified for space sake) – those that I think will be useful to everyone. If you too have a question, please email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recent Questions – Click to view answer!
Q: I told a new guy I was dating (3 dates) that I had been sexually abused as a child. I never heard from him again. What gives? – Anonymous
Thank you for sharing your experience with me (and allowing me to post your response for our community). I am so deeply sorry for the trauma you incurred as a child and no doubt have had to battle during your adult life. More important than my thoughts, I hope you have been able to get some professional help (if not - email me and I can give you some referrals). You deserve to be free of the shackles that sexual abuse offers, to be healed and to love again completely.
Now onto you actual question... As wonderful as it is that you were able to be open, to be vulnerable with your new guy, oftentimes, for most men, heavy information like that will scare them away. Men inherently want to be protectors and information of sexual trauma may make them feel like they may not be able to protect you - like they aren't good enough for the job. It's bullshit, I know that - you know that... but they don't. The last thing a man wants to do is hurt a woman, especially a woman who has been so hurt before. Clearly this guy couldn't handle it for whatever reason. Good to know that now I guess before you invest anymore of your heart.
My advice to you going forward though is to really think about the timing, as well as the motivation for sharing your sexual history. Intimate information like that (and other things too like how many zeroes you do or don't have in the bank, for example) should be reserved for a relationship that is more solid than 3 dates in. It is absolutely important to share it once you have a trusting relationship, simply as information about your past (even though this does NOT define you!). Before you do though, you need to be as resolved as you can be with this piece of your past, otherwise you will be perceived as looking to be healed by your partner - a job that is too big to ask any lover to take on. Does that make sense?
You clearly have a very big love future and I am proud of you for not letting the poison of your past damper the sweetness of your future. Thanks for writing.
BIG love to you, doll!
Q. My boyfriend of 5 months has been making snide remarks lately that I have gained weight since we met. I won’t lie and say he isn’t right. I’ve probably gained about ten pounds. My question though is he an insensitive jerk who should love me whether I am skinny or fat, or does he have the right to expect me to stay the way he met me? – Pia
This is a fabulous question, particularly since it comes at the time of the year where merriment often leads to packing on the pounds. Before I answer you, a forewarning that you might not like what I have to say.
Here’s the thing Pia. I get it. Personally my weight fluctuates all the time. I go from svelte to “needing to lose 10″ in what seems like a week. My weight is affected by the season, holidays and my general mood. I am not the girl who can fit into her high school jeans. I never will be. That said, my husband does have a right to expect I maintain the “look” of the woman he fell in love with. And for that matter, I too have that right. It may sound sexist, but research has shown (and actually there is an awesome book that talks about this – “His Needs, Her Needs” by William Harley), that a core need for men in a relationship is a wife that they are physically attracted to. So…
This means that yes, you do need to try your best to maintain the look (which includes clothing, hair, makeup, etc too) that your boyfriend was originally attracted. This is less about him needing arm candy, and more about his security. One of a guy’s greatest fears is that he will fall for a woman and commit to her forever and then she will change whether it be gaining 100 pounds, trotting around in oversized sweats all the time, quitting her job, becoming a nag, etc. A simple way to assure him that he can count on you to be, well YOU, is to maintain your look (obviously within reason – no plastic surgery needed here!).
One more thing… despite it being my opinion that a guy has a right to expect this, it doesn’t mean he can be hurtful to you about weight gain. Instead, he needs to be encouraging and help you identify why you’ve stopped taking care of yourself and be a supportive partner in getting you to once again. Be sure to speak up for yourself if your feelings are being hurt… always.
And don’t forget – you can have the same request too!
Q. I am meeting my boyfriend’s parents on Thanksgiving Day. I am so nervous! Any tips? – Cherish
First things first – stop worrying! Meeting the parents is not a death sentence. After all, he WANTS you to meet them which likely means he is crazy about you and cannot wait to show you off to his family.
But I get it, knowing that is not enough… you want dos/dont’s… so here you go:
1) Bring a gift. Two choices here… either ahead of time contact the lady of the house to see what you can cook, or two, if you are shy in the kitchen, bring a bouquet of festive fall flowers.
2) Be yourself. Remember, you are there because of who you already are, not who you think mom/dad want you to be. YOU is the best role you can play, so stick to it.
3) Help out! Whether it is clearing the table, refilling drinks or mopping up a mess, be prepared to willingly pitch in. Mom will appreciate this big time!
4) Dress tastefully. Find out from your BF what the dress code is and follow it. This holiday tends to be pretty casual but that doesn’t mean you can have your boobs hang out for drunk Uncle Dan to ogle over. A nice pair of jeans or slacks, a sensible sweater (skip ‘hello it’s me’ bold colors) and natural hair and makeup should work perfectly.
5) Don’t puke. Drinking is fine on a festive occasion such as this one but keep it to a minimum. Nerves and alcohol do not mix well.
6) Ask questions. Undoubtedly you will be bombarded with questions about you. It may even feel like a press conference. Answer questions honestly and don’t feel you need to reveal too much. Be sure to reciprocate by asking others about themselves so that you appear interested.
7) Let you man take the PDA lead. If you two are the type that is always being told to ‘get a room’, table that behavior for this occasion. Your BF knows what is acceptable and not in your family so just follow his canoodling cues.
Follow up with a thank you card. Be sure the next day to drop a handwritten thank you note in the mail. Don’t email – take the time instead to articulate your appreciation for being included.
Q. I’m recently single (and totally bummed about it) and really anxious about attending holiday events without a date. Do you think I should just invite someone for the sake of inviting someone, or should I grin and bear it, or just not go at all? – Betsy
Fabulous question… and I can assure you that you are not the only single gal battling this decision. I actually think you should do neither. Bringing a faux date is, well, to put it simply, lame. You won’t feel good about yourself and everyone will know that he is a “fill-in” leaving you feeling even more down in the dumps. So let’s not do that. As for grinning and bearing it, that won’t work either. The truth is, you are bummed about the situation and that is totally OK! And this is totally normal, natural and expected, right? Right. And finally, avoiding festive events will only increase your blues. Tis the season to find joy, wherever you can.
Ok, so then what DO you do? You be yourself – totally 100% authentically awesome you. Your friends and family are there to support you, not to judge you. After all, don’t they want the best for you too?! Thought so. So say yes to all the events you get invited to keeping in mind that YOU were invited (not some guy) because you are wanted! Without you there, the parties just wouldn’t be the same. You would be missed. And, you would miss out! Nothing soothes heartbreak like egg nog, sparkly sweaters, perfectly wrapped gifts, delectable cookies and hugs from loved ones. When you are asked, “Where is so and so” or “I heard you and so and so broke up” just be honest about how you feel. No need to go into a breakdown monologue but don’t be shy to share by saying something like, “We are not together anymore. I’m in no hurry to marry the wrong guy! I’m looking forward to new love opportunities in 2012!”
You can do it! Just don’t forget to eat an extra cookie… you deserve it
Q: I think my BF spends too much time with his loser friends. What can I do? – Gwyn
I'm not sure what you mean by "too much time." And quite frankly it doesn't matter. What does matter is that you are feeling unattended to, clearly. Every woman has a different need state when it comes to attention from her man. And every woman also has a different way she experiences satisfaction in the attention department. What you need to figure out is what does it take, very specifically for you to feel important? Do you require a certain number of nights per week of being together? Is it important that your time is exclusively alone time? Do you need daily phone calls, txt check ins, etc?
Once you clarify what you need, then you can express to him where he is falling shortly. Be sure not to attack. Instead be sure to speak to him calmly and let him know this is a need of yours and underneath it (unless you are just super insecure) is a desire to be with him - what a compliment!
Also, don't forget to acknowledge his need for guy time. Men need time in their "treehouses" so to speak. Trust me - when they don't have it, they are a mess.
Hope this helps!
Q. My new boyfriend insists on staying friends with his ex-GF. They were together along time and her family is like family to him. It is driving me crazy. Am I being unreasonable? – – Cheyenna
You are in a very common situation and it happens with girls and their exes too… all the time. My take on this is that if it doesn’t feel right TO you, then it isn’t right FOR you. And no, circumstances don’t change that. Let me explain…
My guess is that your BF has come up with even more reasons aside from the close family connection, for why he keeps his ex in his life. They may all sound totally reasonable and I get why you are questioning your own level of tolerance. BUT, at the end of the day, if you feel uncomfortable, your relationship doesn’t stand a chance. The heart of a healthy relationship lies in security and I’m sensing this situation does not contribute to that foundation, but rather retracts from it. The way you are feeling now will only grow into a monstrous problem in your relationship. Some of the things you can expect to see are jealousy, animoity, feelings of being disrespected, lack of trust and so on. Ewww!
So what can you do about it?! Simple. As with any relationship hiccup, you need to address it head on and you need to come from the place of YOU. This isn’t about the ex and it isn’t about your BF and the ex. This is a 100% about you and your comfort level so speak from that place. Let him know that this is NOT ok with you. That while you understand his position it doesn’t change the fact that it doesn’t work for you… and that you are not willing to be in a relationship that doesn’t feel comfortable. It will then be up to him to decide what he wants to do – either way you will feel more secure, with or without him.
You deserve to have a relationship in which you feel 10000000% comfortable – a place where you feel unquestionably safe… but it is up to you to make sure that happens, be it with this man, or another.
Q: I’ve been dating a guy for most of the summer but he is moving back to London. Is it smart to have an LDR with him? – Allyson
Sounds like your summer has been sizzlin sweet! YAY! There is nothing like summer romance... I'm so happy you got a taste of it! But now what? Now what do you do when your summer love moves back home and home is across an ocean?! Personally, I think LDRs are totally possible. As possible as a geographically convenient relationship. They just take a slightly different type of commitment/investment. At the end of the day though, you need to look at the REALITY of your relationship. How deep is it? Can you afford the time and cost of visits to each other? Will the time change allow for reasonable phone/Skype communication? Is he interested in an LDR?
Getting real about the potential is what you need to do. And you need to communicate your ideas and feelings to Mr. Summer Love. Being on the same page about everything from potential to rules will be critical... and these conversations should be had prior to him leaving. And as for the question about it being a smart move? Screw smart... follow your heart. You can always rethink things later :)